Plant & Equipment

Better understanding of the chain of responsibility

Simone Reinertsen is the stakeholder specialist for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), Australia’s independent regulator for all heavy vehicles greater than 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM). It connects and engages with the heavy vehicle industry on safety, accreditation and compliance.

Reinertsen, who has a background in stakeholder engagement and relationship management, has worked for the NHVR for four years. In this role, she strives to improve communication and collaboration among local government, industry and road transport agencies. She previously worked for a decade in the vocational education and training sector, advising the transport industry on training options and skills development.

Reinertsen will discuss new Chain of Responsibility (CoR) revisions to the HVNL. It has been nearly 12 months since amendments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) took effect – as of 1 October, 2018. The HVNL first commenced on 10 February, 2014, in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. While the HVNL does not apply in Western Australia or the Northern Territory, vehicles from these states that cross borders into jurisdictions administering the HVNL have to comply with the law and in some instances drivers may have to fulfil certain aspects of the regulations before they cross the border.

Under the CoR revisions to the HVNL, every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty in relation to the safety of their transport activities, ie eliminating or reducing potential harm or loss through reasonably practicable steps. As parties in the supply chain, quarries are now expected to have safety management systems and controls in place.

What is your key message for the industry?

{{quote-A:R-W:175-I:2-Q:"The heavy vehicle supply chain plays an important role in supporting safe and reliable road transport for all road users"-WHO:Simone Reinertsen, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator}}The heavy vehicle supply chain plays an important role in supporting safe and reliable road transport for all road users. CoR laws were changed in October 2018 to align more closely with workplace health and safety provisions.

This means that all parties in the chain must reduce risks related to the safety of transport tasks. The changes to the laws recognise that heavy vehicle safety is everyone’s responsibility.

What were some of the risk management issues affecting heavy vehicles and their drivers in the past that led to major legislative changes commencing as of October 2018?

Previously, parties in the chain were held responsible only once a breach by a driver had been detected. The changes require each party in the supply chain to take a proactive role in ensuring heavy vehicle safety. This approach is similar to the “general duties” provisions under workplace health and safety laws.

The law makes it clear that every party in the supply chain has an ongoing “duty” to ensure safe practices. If you are doing everything that is reasonably able to be done to identify, assess, reduce or, wherever possible, remove safety risks related to your transport activities, you are likely to be complying with the law.

Although the laws have changed, they still only apply to activities that a person or business has responsibility for and could influence.

Can you explain how and where quarries fit into the CoR regulations of the NHVL?

Any time you or your business sends or receives goods using a heavy vehicle with a GVM of more than 4.5 tonnes, you become part of the supply chain. You therefore have a shared safety management responsibility to prevent breaches of the law.

Would quarries fit the descriptions of many of the parties that are described in the supply chain (as per the NVHR website)?

A person may be a party in the supply chain in more than one way and legal liability can apply to their actions, inactions and demands. Some roles that can influence heavy vehicle safety around a quarry include loading manager, consignee, operator, consignor, scheduler, loader, employer, executive officer and prime contractor.

What sort of systems and/or investments should quarries have in place to ensure that they comply with the CoR?

If you have defined ways to make sure you’re doing everything you can to manage the safety risks associated with your operations, then you should continue to apply those same processes. Some of the additional things you could do include ensuring a knowledge of potential risks to your heavy vehicle transport task, taking steps to minimise or eliminate your heavy vehicle safety risks and monitoring heavy vehicle safety.

Does NHVR recommend quarries invest in technologies such as load scales, weighbridges and on-board software on earthmoving vehicles to assist with ensuring that truckloads at the gate are in compliance?

What you should do will depend on the level of safety risk. The NHVR encourages businesses to adopt any additional measures that may improve compliance, or their ongoing obligation to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of their transport activities as a loading manager relating to a heavy vehicle loaded at their premises.

Installing and operating a fixed weighing system is one option, but in each case, the scale of the operation and level of risk do affect what would be reasonably required under the HVNL.

What should always be done includes acquiring a knowledge of potential risks to your heavy vehicle transport task, taking steps to minimise or eliminate heavy vehicle safety risks and monitoring heavy vehicle safety.

 

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What sort of tools are available to operators that can assist them with CoR compliance?

There are resources and tools available on the NHVR website: nhvr.gov.au/cor

The heavy vehicle industry has developed its own Registered Industry Code of Practice, based on guidelines set by the NHVR. More information on the Master Code is available at nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/industry-codes-of-practice

The NHVR encourages all parties in the heavy vehicle supply chain to adopt and utilise a Safety Management System (SMS) as part of their everyday business, to help effectively consider and manage their operation’s day to day safety risks: nhvr.gov.au/sms

It’s now been nearly 12 months since the CoR amendments came into effect in numerous jurisdictions. What feedback have you had from stakeholders that the changes are working?

This reform means the laws are similar to the “general duties” provisions under existing workplace health and safety, thus allowing operators to streamline their safety and compliance efforts. Most operators and supply chain businesses see this as a significant step towards improving safety in the transport industry. The amended laws make it clear that every party in the supply chain has an ongoing “duty” to ensure safe practices.

If you are doing everything that is reasonably able to be done to identify, assess, reduce or wherever possible, remove safety risks related to your transport activities, you are likely to be complying with the changed law.

Has there been a decline in the number of penalties that were previously issued to heavy vehicle owners and drivers for non-compliance in the past 12 months, eg exceeding mass, dimension or loading requirements or mode of delivery?

It is still too early to gauge the level of compliance with the new laws but many industry groups, which rely on heavy vehicles, have increased their awareness of the roles they play in heavy vehicle safety. The NHVR and other enforcement agencies are currently investigating a number of possible breaches under the changed CoR laws.

Simone Reinertsen will deliver her presentation at the IQA’s annual conference at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong, on Thursday, 3 October.

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